This year, Ohio Votes and our partners facilitated the voting of thousands of Ohioans across the state. All the hard work from voter advocates across the state paid off: 54.3 percent of registered Ohio voters showed up to the polls, the highest percentage in a midterm since 1994. A record breaking 4.38 million Ohioans cast their ballot, the most voters in a midterm election ever. Nationally, we had the highest midterm election turnout since 1914 – before women even had the right to vote.
Ohio Votes worked with our network of housing providers, disability resource centers, and other agencies that serve low-income communities to encourage people who are too often ignored by political leaders to exercise their right to vote this year. Through registration drives, candidate forums, volunteer trainings, voter education and empowerment, navigating voters and driving them to the polls, we helped infrequent voters experience democracy and get more engaged in the political process.
Working with our housing and service partners, faith-based organizations, and volunteer-based organizations, we promoted voting to the community through newsletter announcements, educational material, candidate forums, announcements or tabling at meetings and community activities, and distributing voting promotional material including stickers, posters, handcards, a video explaining the 2018 ballot and importance of voting in local elections, and a one pager explaining the offices up for election and candidate names.
On National Voter Registration Day, we brought volunteers to low-income housing units and had pizza parties where voters learned about the ballot, registered to vote, and discussed politics with their neighbors. We coordinated NVRD parties in Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
Throughout early voting, beginning October 22 and running through Election Day, we matched volunteer drivers with voters in need of a ride to early voting centers. Additionally, our Voter Navigators set up camp at a low-income hot spot and helped voters look up their voter registration, learn about their ballots, confirm they have the correct type of ID, and find rides to the polls.
We also supported Election Protection efforts organized by the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition by helping them recruit volunteers as poll monitors. Poll monitors helped voters confirm they are properly registered and otherwise make sure everyone’s voting rights are respected. These folks also watched for funny business at polling locations and helped voters onsite.
Over 200 volunteers helped us get voters to the polls. Many volunteers are looking forward to helping out again in 2020, and reported having a meaningful experience with other members of their community that they wouldn’t otherwise meet. “I met my new best friend,” was just one of many anecdotes we heard.
All-in-all, throughout 2018, we helped voters learn the truth about voting: it’s FUN, EASY, and IMPORTANT. Thank you for all of your help and we look forward to continuing our voter engagement work for years to come.